Budget deal takes shape, details to come in trailer bills

Budget deal takes shape, details to come in trailer bills

(Calif.) State policymakers appear poised to complete the budget prior to California’s June 15 deadline, but a number of trailer bills will determine policies related to funding for early learning, teacher recruitment and credentialing, and special education.

The Legislature’s Conference Committee on the Budget reached agreement on new investments this last weekend, including a push to increase the number of pre-school slots for income-eligible four-year-olds–one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s key priorities.

Thus far, the governor as well as education leaders have hailed the budget report for adding historic funding for schools, students and teachers throughout the state.

 “This is a strong budget for public schools and an important step on the road toward providing California’s 6.2 million students with the resources needed for a high-quality education,” Emma Turner, president of the California School Boards Association, said in a statement. “Much work remains.”

Some of that spending, however, will hinge on yet-to-be-released trailer bills. While Saturday marks the constitutional budget deadline for lawmakers to approve next year’s spending plan, trailer bills can be voted on later this month, and require only a simple majority to pass.

Under the current iteration of the budget bill, for instance, lawmakers carved out close to $153 million to bring all Local Educational Agencies to the statewide base rate, as well as more than $493 million to provide grants to LEAs serving 3 and 4 year olds with Individualized Education Plans. The committee also noted trailer bill language would need to require ongoing funding to be contingent upon the passage of legislation in the next budget to reform the special education system to improve outcomes for students.

Committee members approved $195 million in one-time spending on the Child Care Early Learning and Care Workforce Development Grant, while also adopting placeholder trailer bill language to “expand trainings and support activities to a broad range of providers.”

In an effort to improve teacher recruitment and preparation efforts for older children, lawmakers approved the Assembly’s efforts to establish the Golden State Teacher Grant Program, which calls for one-time grant funds of $20,000 to each student working toward earning a preliminary teaching credential if they commit to working in a high-need subject area field for four years after they receive a teaching credential.

The budget bill compromise also calls for a placeholder trailer bill that specifies that grant recipients must commit to teach at a school that has a high percentage of teachers holding emergency-type permits.

Throughout the country, permits and waivers that allow educators to head up a classroom before earning a full teaching credential were increasingly relied upon in schools in the years during and following the recession. In California, more than 12,000 substandard permits and credentials were issued in 2017-18, representing half of the teachers entering workforce in that year, according to the Teacher Credentialing Commission.

In a report published last month, researchers at the Learning Policy Institute found that underprepared teachers are disproportionately assigned to schools that serve the largest shares of students of color and students from low-income families throughout the state.

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